November is Financial Literacy Month! Right now is an excellent time to get educated about your finances before the new year. We’re sharing tips on how to budget effectively, how to protect your information online and how to use online banking effectively.
Online Banking and Keeping Your Information Safe
Internet scams, fraud and theft are becoming more sophisticated with time. It’s no longer as easy to spot as a Nigerian prince offering you money. That’s why it’s so important to educate yourself about online security and take steps to protect yourself.
Some of the easiest things you can do to protect your accounts and your information include:
- Using unique, strong passwords. Don’t use birthdays or sequential numbers. (eg. 1234).
- Setting up security questions and answers provide an additional line of defense should someone guess your password.
- Always typing login addresses manually or using a saved bookmark for that specific login page. Never use a link from an email or text.
- Viewing financial information on secure home WiFi only.
- Keeping your devices updated. Software updates may be annoying, but they often fix major security flaws that can be exploited.
- Installing and activating antivirus software.
- Watching your accounts closely. You’ll notice if something isn’t right.
It’s a team effort.
Our Terms and Conditions detail critical steps that you must take to meet your account and security responsibilities. Read the agreement and follow the tips above to stay safe online.
Tips for Budgeting Effectively
If you find yourself starting to get bogged down by the costs of living, it’s a good idea to pause and take a look at your budget. There may be more opportunities than you realize to cut costs and rebalance what you spend versus what you put toward your debt. For instance, you may be paying for subscriptions you’re not actively using.
If you don’t have a budget, now is a great time to make one. There are plenty of free online templates and resources to get started like Excel spreadsheets and free apps. In fact, the government of Canada actually offers a free budget planner tool.
Other quick tips:
- Prioritize paying off debt with the highest interest rate
- Talk to your credit card company about getting an extension on paying back debt before you actually need to pay it off and give yourself more room to breathe
- Talk to a certified financial advisor if you’re struggling with saving for the future
How to Get the Most Out of Online Banking
Online banking is now more accessible than ever (we would know because we offer a robust online banking system). It’s easy to get started and set up an account, and once you do, these helpful tips below can make banking online a smooth simple process.
- Identify your account numbers, transit numbers, and branch number. Each of these are important for setting up any direct billing to those accounts.
- Set up your security questions. This provides an additional line of defense should someone try to access your account by guessing your password.
- You can choose to go paperless and receive e-statements. This saves you the $5 monthly fee.
- Automatic notifications help you manage your account and alert you when any of the following happens: a direct deposit is received, a large payment is charged, your balance falls below a certain amount, your account is in overdraft, and more. You can set up automatic notifications in MemberDirect.
Overall, spending a little time to get even more financially literate can help you understand your finances even more and potentially even help identify ways to save money.